You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

You don’t bring me flowers,

You don’t sing me love songs

BECAUSE YOU’RE DEAD.

This widows’ Valentine message most likely wouldn’t make any money for Hallmark.

So what’s a widow to do on the invented holiday when romantic love is in the air, red hearts and chocolates invade her world? When everywhere she looks she is reminded that she is no longer anyone’s sweetheart?   intertwined hearts

When her own alive, beating, red heart is shattered ?alone val day

While researching for this post I came across a heartwarming article about a lucky widow (now there’s an oxymoron for ya !) whose late husband, before his death,  thoughtfully arranged for an annual delivery of Valentine’s flowers to his wife ad infinitum.roses

Most of us can’t count on that Hallmark movie scene at our own homes, so then, what?

On my first solo intertwined heartsValentines’ Day I made a tiny step towards my new life by rearranging my bedroom furniture. A new comforter set, pillows, and rug were purchased. Then came the tear-inducing task of emptying the drawers and discarding what I could of John’s clothing. His underwear went in the trash, everything else was boxed and stored in the attic for future quilts. Someday. When I’m ready.

I worked myself to exhaustion that day. Once finished, I slept in the bed, our bed, without John, for my first Valentines’ Day alone, with memories of 36 intertwined heartsValentines Days, playing in my head. All the pounds of Phillips Candy House fudge, chocolate covered cherries, for me and the kids. The year I contracted chickenpox, at age 29, looked like hell and still felt like the most beautiful girl in the world as my John brought me candy and told me he loved me, and to stay in bed while he took care of the babies. True love.

Flash forward to our last intertwined heartsValentines Day together. A major snowstorm had delayed our dinner reservations so late that we gave up and drove home, hoping to grab a bite at the little local tavern, only to find it closed early due to snow. A meager dinner of cheese and crackers by the fire at home sufficed and we made up for it the next day with a lovely lunch.

Now I celebrate a combined Valentines Day/Birthday with my black lab Babe, who turns 10 tomorrow. Cheeseburgers for both of us.

John won’t buy me flowers this year, or any year. I will buy flowers for his grave, and a rose or two for me. And chocolates. Because he would want that.

Chocolates and wine for me. At least the major food groups are covered and I have 90 pounds of warm dog in my bed. That and my memories will get me through.

pink-heart-clipart-15.png

 

 

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Here it comes…. or Super Bowl 50

Ina few days the NE Patriots face the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl LII. (52) I understand the overpaid millionaires will gather on a large field dressed in gladiator type gear and give each other concussions while millions watch via television, consuming mass quantities of food and alcohol. The winning team receives a ring ,  trophy, accolades and product endorsement contracts. All may receive permanent brain injuries, but hey, it’s just a game.

I never paid much attention to my brain until John was diagnosed with glioblastoma, Stage 4 brain cancer. Until then I took for granted that my body would just function as the neurons fired, giving my organs messages. Limbs would move, eyes would blink, liver would cleanse the blood, it would pump, and life would go on without any help from me. My brain had it all under control.

Until that fateful day when John’s brain went haywire and seized, his body functioned perfectly well. But once off track, all bets were off. The fast-growing tumor was in his left frontal lobe, the part of the brain key in movement, language function, decision making, emotional regulation, and personality. In surgery, it was discovered that the tumor had spread to the longitudinal fissure, the line dividing the cerebral hemispheres. If disturbed, the surgery would have left him “not himself”

That fact that the brain makes us who we are was driven home to me by John’s illness. Everything we say or do, our personality, our reactions etc are driven by firing neurons and synapses. The cells formed in utero and their subsequent maturity rule the world.

So if all fires well and nature and nurture cooperate, we become healthy, happy, functioning members of society. We care, we love, we provide, we grow, we ponder, we think, we plan. We make good choices. We make the world a better place and leave our legacy of lives well lived when we depart.

But here’s the deal: we don’t. Our brains are delicate formations of grey matter, easily damaged by environmental toxins, emotional trauma, and sometimes physical trauma.  Today one in six Americans is diagnosed and treated for mental illness.

Yet the stigma persists and shame accompanies the diagnosis, resulting in a vicious cycle for the patient. Where support and compassion are needed, they often find misunderstanding and blame.

Like many diseases, mental illness has a genetic component. In my family that is the case. I am pre-disposed to depression and anxiety and have passed that gene onto my children.

I’ve suffered from the disease my entire life. After my mom’s suicide, I began to treat it, going on and off meds for years until finally accepting the truth that they, along with therapy,  were necessary and life-saving.

John’s illness and death kicked my depression and anxiety in high gear. Four months after he died I suffered what is known as a nervous breakdown. The numbness and disbelief that protected me from the harsh reality of his death were torn away, leaving me naked, alone, terrified and unable to stop crying and worrying. It was horrific. The Stones described it this way:

Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years.
And though you’ve tried you just can’t hide your eyes are edged with tears.
You better stop, look around,
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown.

I ended up in Maclean Hospital where I was hoping to receive intensive inpatient grief therapy. What I got was definitely not that. But that’s another post.

It so happened that the Super Bowl happened during my stay there. Somewhere in that bizarre memory of a “One Flew Over the Cukoos Nest” group gathered in the community room, with bowls of snacks next to the crayons and games, watching tribal entertainment., there is a novel waiting to be written.  I wandered in and out of the room, wondering which group was truly crazy – those incarcerated here or those millions in front of their TV’s at home.

your nocrazier

So there it is – my most surreal Super Bowl memory, one that resurfaces every year at this time. Others are caught up in the hoopla, the pre-game, the rivalry, the recipes.

I’m still trying to swim upstream against the tide of grief that keeps threatening to pull me under. The waves keep crashing over my head, blinding me, while I try to just catch my breath. Trying to maintain my mental health.

 

 

 

Sit with me, awhile

chair

There’s a mellow version of the Christian pop song “Sit With You Awhile” that I was fond of back in my religious days. The lyrics, although directed at God/Jesus, also speak to the empty space the death of spouse leaves:

When I can not feel
When my wounds don’t heal…..

 you are my life
So I don’t mind to die….

Cause I could just sit with you awhile
You could just hold me
Nothing can touch me
ThoughI’m wounded
ThoughI’ve died….

If I could just sit with you awhile
I’d need you to hold me
Moment by moment ’till forever passes by

John’s favorite chair was his recliner. He spent many happy hours there watching TV, playing computer solitaire, snoozing.

He also spent most of the summer of 2015 in that chair, when he wasn’t hospitalized. Though sick, weak and worried, he still enjoyed that chair and the pastimes that kept him occupied, despite his desire to “just go back to work”.

Every time I would pass him as he sat there, I would stop and kiss his head, trying to memorize the smell, the feel of his wispy grey hair. I always teased him that he had the cutest ears on earth. They were perfectly shaped, the right size, and laid nicely against his skull. He believed it was because his mother would turn him from side to side often as a baby. We would laugh about it and I would point out people with bad ears on TV or in public.

When he died, the chair remained in its same spot for months. Sitting in it made me cry, but it also made me feel close to John so my early days of grieving were spent mainly in that chair.

With new furniture came the quandary: what to do with this chair? No room for it with the new sectional. Not ready to toss it with the old sofa. So I lugged it upstairs and kept it in the hallway, knowing that someday it would be time to bring it to the dump.

Today was that day. After two years and three months, it’s time.

Youtube failed me, I had to figure out how to dismantle it on my own, and I did. Figured out how to use a ratchet wrench, much too late, but it made the last 3 bolts a breeze!

I had to cut the upholstery around the bolts to loosen them, and as I did I realized I could cut a nice swatch or whatever size piece from the seat and save it for a future project. It can join all John’s clothes I have boxed for a future quilt. I’m certainly not ready for that emotional tsunami. Someday.

Chairs – so many places, purposes, times. As I was removing the bolts I thought of all the chairs of John’s illness. The chair I sat in beside his ER bed when we got the horrific news of the brain tumor. The many hospital chairs in his room and in the labs waiting for tests. The chair he insisted I sit in the moment he died. That damn chair.

Broken hearts see the vacancy of the empty chair and long for just a few moments of the past, to share a meal, a smile, a hug. To see it full of life and love, even for a moment.

The recliner is no more. It sits in pieces awaiting my scissors, then I will cry as I take it to the dump. This I am certain of.

In my heart, I see John – alive, healthy, happy – in that chair. He is watching the Patriots with a nice plate of snacks I made him. Enjoying life. As I pass by him, I kiss him on the head and he grabs me by the waist and pulls me into his lap for a snuggle. “Sit with me ” he says, “Are you comfortable ?” And even though I’m not, I’m happy and at peace because this is what it’s all about. I snuggle in and we watch the game together.

If I could just sit with you awhile
I’d need you to hold me
Moment by moment ’till forever passes by

Loneliness is such a sad affair.

Long ago and oh so far away,

I fell in love with you…….

 

Sometime in the 70s Karen Carpenter sang it so well, her alto vibrato crying out her unrequited groupie angst.

And like any good love song, the timeless message brings a tear to the eye as we sing along.

Karen’s rock star , the object of her affection, promised he would come back. Told her he loved her. Maybe he was sincere, but Superstars lie.

So, Karen lived with the pain of a broken heart, hoping and wishing her love would return to her as he promised. Meanwhile, she ached for him, remembered how he made her feel, cried and sang this love song that he would most likely never hear.

Widowhood is much the same. Remembering. Aching. Longing. Sadness.

Loneliness. In a room of people, loneliness. Having dinner with friends, loneliness. Taking a class, meeting new people, traveling, loneliness.

Because company is not what’s missing. Interacting with people, laughing, talking, listening, is not what’s missing.

What is missing , who is missing, is your spouse. Your soul mate. Your love. Everyone else is just a poor substitute for what we long for. That one person who knew us better than we knew ourselves. Who could light up our day with a smile, a touch, a word, a look.

And yet those who want us to get better, to heal, to move on, they don’t understand this. It’s like they have removed the filet mignon and replaced it with ground mystery meat, then expect us to just keep eating because after all, food is food and you eat if you’re hungry.

Wrong. No, I lost my appetite for small talk when I watched my husband die. When my life was stolen. When I buried him and our dreams.

Put me in a room with people and you can be sure that despite my nodding and smiling, inside I am screaming, while hoping that maybe this will be the time he will just walk through the door and meet my eyes, come to me, slip his arm around my waist and the world will balance again. No ? Wait, he’s not coming back ? What, wait, I thought …..he loved me. He did. He told me. He promised.

He did. He loved me. Until his last breath, he loved me. Said he wouldn’t leave me.

But he did. He didn’t want to, but he did. For some cosmic reason I still don’t understand, he had to go..

Loneliness is such a sad affair,

and I can hardly wait

to be with you again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do not judge that which you do not understand 

Excellent – wish I had written it

Ready, Set.... Grieve?

Since losing my husband, I have been going through a sort of rebirth.

I have been trying on different hats, looking for what best fits the person that I am now.

I have had some successes. And I have made plenty of errors.

But I own every single one of them.

I do not know what all of the pieces of the “new me” look like, so I am experimenting until I can make myself whole again.

Throughout the past 14 months I have shared bits and pieces of what I am doing with non-widowed people and I have been met with shock and judgment.

And to be honest with you, it hurts.

I do not like the looks of disapproval. I do not like the change in their tone of voice or the questioning look in their eye. I do not like the obvious change in the dynamic of…

View original post 288 more words

Having fun yet ?

I am one week into year 3. Not what I expected at all. When John died I told my therapist that my goal was to not become a widow stuck in grief. Silly me, I had no understanding of the complexities and power of a broken heart. No concept of the devastation losing my love would cause. The havoc and destruction of my entire life. The pieces strewn around like a massive hurricane, tornado and tsunami that struck simultaneously.
All the books I read promised new beginnings, second firsts, a way out of the darkness. Hope. Healing. Acceptance. Peace.
 
They were all wrong. There is no way out. Believe me, I’ve tried. There is no way around grief, only through it. I thought by now I’d be reaching the end of the tunnel, but the light I sometimes glimpse looks more like an oncoming train.
 
I ran into an older widow acquaintance yesterday while out walking. A year ago I wrote about how bitter and angry she was, an example of who I did not want to become. Yesterday she was like a different person, full of life and glowing. She told me all about her recent online dating experiences . As happy as I was for her I cringed.
I’ve looked at those sites, done a bit of window shopping. I don’t want to be alone forever.
 
BUT —–( always pay attention to the words after BUT ) here’s my issue: 
Judgement.
The first step in online dating is creating a personal profile. Beyond choosing a cute and catchy user name, a woman over 55 must market herself to have an edge over the inevitable younger, slimmer, prettier, curvier competition.
As Gypsy Rose Lee said, “You gotta have a gimmick”
And therein lies the first stumbling block.
I’m too old for gimmicks. At 58, I know exactly who I am, and I don’t take criticism kindly.
Popeye put it best:
popeye
Confident enough to put myself out there. Secure enough to accept that I am not everyone’s cup of tea.
The online dating scene reminds me of a department store. Lonely people shopping  for love. You get in your car and drive to the mall, (go online) because you need a pair of pants. (companionship, whatever) You begin browsing through the dozens of racks, hoping to find what you came for:
Size:You have an inkling of what size you need, but maybe you’ve gained a few pounds so you adjust those parameters.
Style: You know what looks good on you, what you are comfortable with, so you skip past those you wouldn’t be caught dead in.
Length: Your short or long legs lead you to either the petite or big and tall section.
Purpose: hiking, dress, casual, sweat, shorts, cargo, jeans —– so many choices ! What do I really need ? What do I really want ? Maybe I should try a new style, break out of my comfort zone ? No, wait, that’s scary, I’ll just stick with what I know.
Next stop, dressing room.  (online chatting or texting) You try the pants , check the fit, the length. Chances are you got it wrong, so you quickly rip them off and try the next pair.
Wrong again, ouch those hurt. Can’t even sit down in those.
Another pair, you can’t even get your ankle through the leg. Throw them on the floor.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Surely the next pair will fit, they are 2 sizes too big and even though you would never dream of actually wearing them, you need pants god damn it. So you put them on. They are baggy, ugly, and hide your body in a way that’s hideously comfortable. You could throw these in the dryer and even if they shrink, it’s ok because they are too big anyway. They don’t go with anything else you own but so what, maybe you need new shirts and jackets and shoes anyway. Of course, a whole new me !
Exhausted, you return all your hope to the rack outside the dressing room, and settle for just one pair of ugly pants. And you rejoice that you can stop for ice cream on the way home because of the huge waistband.
You throw the pants, still in the bag, on the bottom of your closet at home. Disgusted with yourself, you know you deserve better. Maybe you’ll return them. No, wait, it will be good to have a pair of fat pants this winter, just in case.
Meanwhile……………………………………
There is someone similar to you, shopping for the perfect pair of pants.
They know exactly what they want. Something flashy, adorable, colorful and form fitting. Something that will make them look and feel younger, slimmer, more attractive. Something they would be proud to be seen in, something they could wear to a party and receive approving glances from friends and strangers. Something people would stop and stare at, wondering how he got so lucky.
Something he could wear hiking, or on his speed boat, or his Mercedes convertible, or his yacht. Something that would show off his perfect teeth, his investment portfolio, his hair plugs. His fake tan.
You are not those pants.
You are you, faded, comfortable, patched, and worn. Waistband is stretched. You are proud to be you. You don’t care if you aren’t stylish, hip and flashy. Your greatest accomplishment is not coming apart at the seams after years of rough wear. You are content to be left on the rack.
 

Death and denial

Today is 2 years since John died. I’m just trying to get through the day, keeping busy and watching the clock until I go to bed tonight.

I can’t recall if I ever wrote about his actual death. Writing helps me and so I’d like to share that experience with you.

Thursday Oct. 8, 2015. We had been at the hospital since Monday, John being treated for blood clots again after a brain hemorrhage forced the cessation of blood thinners. I knew when they took him off those he would clot again and that would be the end. I was sadly correct.

We had booked an appointment with the top brain cancer specialist at Dana Farber , for this day, a month previously. Since we were in the hospital and the doctor was restricted by insurance issues , we had to get John into an ambulance and drive him  50 yards across the street. Ridiculous. Anyway the specialist looked at his latest brain scans and said he thought the tumor was shrinking ! Good news, finally, a ray of hope. My daughter and I were thrilled, John just asked the doctor how much time did he have left.

So the ambulance drives us back across the street, we get John back in his room, he promptly falls a sleep and sleeps through lunch. Our daughter leaves with a smile to go run some errands, we think we are out of the woods and it’s all good.

Not so fast. In a bit John wakes up and tells me he has to use the bathroom. As his legs are extremely swollen, he needs help to get up and out of bed and to the bathroom. Should I get the nurse, I ask. He says no, he can do it. I go to grab his IV pole and help him to the handrail to balance, he shuffles to the bathroom door as I hold my breath expecting his legs to collapse. At the door I tell him to go in, I’ve got the pole. He says NO in a very determined voice, a voice he rarely uses. I sputter and remind him I always help him , I’ll just come in like I always do. Again he answers NO and raises his voice, very unlike him. He tells me to sit down, wait for him, he’ll be fine. Against my better judgment I do as he asks and take my seat by his bed.

Not 15 seconds later, a huge thud, metal clanging, he had fallen off the commode onto the floor, his body hit the metal guardrails on descent. I jumped up, pulled the red emergency lever and started screaming. He was semi conscious. It took several people to get him up, he was 270 lbs, 6 ft 1 “. They finally did and threw him into the bed, almost knocking his head on the rail, I was so angry at their clumsiness. 

He was semi conscious, they asked him questions, he slurred the answers then his breathing became strained. It got worse. The doctors kept looking at each other, their eyes speaking a language all their own. John struggled harder to breathe. I stood by helplessly. It seemed like an hour but it was probably just a few minutes if even that. The doctor asked if they should intubate and I answered no. That’s another post, so I’ll leave it at that. The doctor told me I made a good decision. I wasn’t so sure as I held John’s hand and talked him into the next life.

My hope is that none of those I love ever have to watch their love struggle to take their last breath. There are no adequate words to explain this horror.

He stopped breathing. At that moment I felt his soul leave his body. Skin and bones and flesh transformed into a lifeless casing, their jobs done. This was not John. It was his temporary home for 58 years.

Yet I stayed with him, holding his hand, kissing his lips, his head, taking in the smell of him, storing it away in my memory . I was unable to comprehend the moment. Brain waves had stopped, heart had stopped, blood had stopped, soul had left. Yet his body was here, the body I had coexisted with since 1978, so joined that his body was my body. The two had become one. Was I dead too ? Wait. What just happened  ? John died ? No, that’s impossible. No. No. No. I screamed between soothing him lifeless body. No. No. No. come back. No. You can’t die. No.

Then doctors mumbled apologies, condolences. Nurses came and explained the next steps. Family arrived and I froze to my place, unable to move because that would mean he was really dead. Wait. No, that can’t be what happened. Of course he’s not dead. 

The hospital chaplain came and we said some words, we cried, and one by one people left me to be alone with my John for the last time. The last time. Wait. No, this is not happening. No. No. No.

Pea soup

The widely accepted theory of the the five stages of grief puts acceptance as the last stage.

We grievers know that this theory has many flaws. First, Kubler-Ross never intended it to become the gospel of grief, as she developed it for terminally ill patients, not grievers.

At first, the map of the stages seems very helpful. It  gives our wild and broken hearts a purpose and a goal. If we can just get past denial, then express our anger ,  we can move on to the bargaining, and hopefully finish this nasty work of grieving. It sounds like a plan, something we can accomplish if we put our minds to it.

But Grievers quickly come to realize that the stages are not linear. Its not like stepping stones over a raging river, where you place one foot then the next on each stone to make it safely across. The stages mix and mingle and wrap around each other, forming a jumbled knot  of emotion , not easily untangled. The waves of grief arise from calm waters and knock us off balance, losing our grip. In reality, we swim in and out of the stages of grief. In a heartbeat and without warning, anger can rear its ugly head, denial can seem plausible, and we can go right back to day one of our grief journey. We begin again.

Acceptance . What does it even mean ? There is a pop psychology guru who preaches ” radical acceptance” , which I suppose is acceptance 2.0 on steroids. It basically holds that kicking and screaming against the inevitable is useless, and that surrendering brings peace. So how does this apply to grief ?

What does it mean to accept death ? Do I stop thinking that there is a real chance that John will come back ? That maybe I’ll wake up and this will all be a bad dream ? That someone will rewind the clock back to when I had a wonderful life ? All reasonable ideas, for someone not grieving.

How do grievers not accept the empty bed, the empty place at the table, the destroyed family, the uncelebrated holidays, the loneliness. It’s what we live every minute of every day. It’s our reality. We have no choice but to accept it. We don’t have the luxury of saying, “sorry, could you take that back ? it’s not what I ordered” no, we choke it down because we have no choice.

Maybe what they mean is to come to a place of being OK with death, with loss, with your entire world gone. Being OK with being alone, facing the rest of your life without the one person who gave it meaning. Finding peace in the tragedy. Rainbows, silver linings, all that stuff people say to push you along so your grief doesn’t make them too uncomfortable.

It’s never going to be OK. I may learn to walk with a limp, but I’m always going to want my leg back.

When I was a child I hated pea soup. I still do. Yet in my generation, kids ate what they were served and they cleaned their plate, like it or not.

Grief is my pea soup. I hate everything about it, the smell, the texture, the color, the taste. Yet I’ve been served a big bowl of it and forced to swallow it against my will. I will never accept pea soup. It’s not what I ordered.

I’m choking.

I’m So Tired of Being Alone, Part One.

The very first words out of my therapist’s mouth after expressing her condolences for John’s death were these:

“Margie, you have to learn to be alone.”

After 22 months of daily practice, I think I’ve mastered it. But like the kid who is forced against her will to take piano lessons, all the practice in the world won’t make me like it.

In fact, I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Don’t get me wrong. For my entire life I have always enjoyed my “alone time” – in small increments, when I chose them. This enforced solitary confinement is a prison I desperately want to escape.

We widows are a sad bunch.  There’s a popular blog called  “Widows Wear Stilettos !! ” that attempts to put lipstick on the loneliness of widowhood. Huge fail. All dressed up and no place to go. Like Van Morrison sang “all the girls go by, dressed up for each other”

The loss of  John left a crater that all my futile attempts fail to fill.  Food, shopping, travel, drinking, socializing, gardening, exercising, Facebook, busyness all eventually end and my empty house and bed await my return.

The main difference between solitude and loneliness, between being alone and being lonely is choice.  Voluntary vs. involuntary. At the end of a long day, it’s a choice to ask Calgon to take me away and retreat to the comfort of a warm bath, or whatever escape floats my boat.

It’s a completely different animal when at the end of my day, I come home to nothing, no one. Lots to say and no one to listen and respond. The silence is deafening. I adore my dogs but they are no substitute for human companionship. It’s both a blessing and a curse that they cannot speak.

Which brings me to Tom Hanks. Wait, what ?

IMDB summarizes the film “Castaway” featuring Tom Hanks,  as

the story of “a man (Chuck Noland) who is marooned on an island after his plane crashes into the ocean. Far away from home, his girlfriend, and any human contact, he engages in a battle of wits with himself as he is tested mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to survive.”

Sounds like a brief and succinct description of widowhood to me.

wilson

To continue:

“Chuck realizes that his priority is survival – which primarily means food, water, shelter and fire – and rescue. But survival is also in an emotional sense.

To fulfill that emotional need, he has an heirloom pocket watch with Kelly’s photo that she gave him as a Christmas present, and eventually opening the FedEx packages, a Wilson volleyball on which he paints a face and which he names Wilson.”

As a widow, the psychological concept in the movie that most interests me is the human need for social interaction. Like Noland, I often feel stranded alone on an island, with nobody to talk to. Days can pass for me with no conversation outside interactions with sales people at stores. In the film, Chuck makes a face on a volleyball, naming him “Wilson”, in order to create a “person” to talk to. Chuck projects his thoughts on Wilson, and then adds Wilson’s half of the conversation in his head.

Yup. Widowhood. Conversing with the dead. It can make you feel insane. Check.

As time progresses, Chuck goes through a range of emotions, but if rescue is ever in the cards, he realizes that he has to find a way to get off the island, which is seemingly impossible in his circumstance due to the strong on shore surf he cannot get beyond without assistance. What Chuck may not fully realize is the longer he is not rescued, the harder it will be for him to return to his old life in its entirety if he ever is rescued.”

Yup. Bingo. Widowhood. Must get off this island. Will die.

sos1.jpg

 

Must get off island.

The journey continues.

 

 

 

 

 

Die a Happy Man

This popular country song came on my car radio as I was driving to work this morning.

Basically it’s a love song in which the man tells the woman that even if he never gets to fulfill his material dreams, because of her love he will die a happy man.

I hope with all my heart that is what my John thinks and believes in death. And I believe it is the truth.

We had 3 months from his diagnosis of GBM to his death from a pulmonary embolism to say everything that needed saying. To express our undying love for each other before one of us would die. To share memories, reminisce and remember all the good times we were so lucky to have together.

Road trips. Bike rides. Camping. Hiking. Snuggling. Our wood stove. Laughing. Crying. Hoping. Dreaming. Planning. Living.

One thing he said will stay with me forever. It ranks first in all the words he said in those 3 months. It was this profound bit of wisdom that only the dying understand:

“I spent my whole life worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter.”

Wow. Just wow. What stuff did he worry about ?

Because he was super responsible,he worried about providing for his family in material ways. He worked his ass off trying to be sure we had enough money. I still have no idea how he managed to pay our mortgage every month for 34 years, put 4 kids through college, and put food on the table with one income. But he did. And he lost sleep over it.

I think that’s what he meant about stuff that doesn’t matter.

He was an amazing husband and father. His material contributions were nothing compared to the infinite, unconditional love he showered upon us. He adored us. He gave everything he had to us, denying himself the simplest pleasures.  After  commuting to Boston for years he would come home with his huge smile and jump right into bathing the babies, reading to them, feeding them, putting them to bed. His greatest regret was missing so much of that time due to his commute. He once told me it was all ” a blur” to him.

Like the Beatles so eloquently put it:

And in the end

The love you take

Is equal to the love

You make.

Ain’t that the truth. My John was not a rich man in the ways our world measures wealth. But he was rich in love, and he gave it away generously. I hope this made him die a happy man.

It certainly made me a happy woman, so well loved, who misses him beyond words.

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